Adoption time either seems to run maddeningly slowly, or frustratingly fast.
(And there’s typically little or nothing in between.)
It’s hard to explain to those who have never been part of the adoption process. But anyone whose life has been touched by adoption can relate to the truth that in adoption time passes differently.
When Adoption Time Runs Slow
When you’re waiting to adopt, of course, adoption time is painfully slow. Like waiting for fertility test results, time may even seem to stand still. You long for some assurance that something is happening. Folks are quick to assure you that “good things come to them that wait.” But if you have to hear Abrazo staff chant the old “not if, but when?” trope one more time, you’re going to scream.
Kevin and Samantha, Bob & Lisa and Joe & Priscilla can surely relate. These three Abrazo couples have been waiting to match since fall of 2018. They’re all lovely couples, so there’s nothing about them that has caused this delay. They are homestudy-ready for immediate placement. And they’ve spoken with a number of possible birthparents, but the right adoption match just hasn’t happened for them yet, and so they wait. Their time will come. But they know a thing or two about the frustration of living on adoption time.
Adoption time can run slow for placing parents, too, though. This happens when you’re hiding a pregnancy from everyone, or when you’re waiting to find the right adoptive couple? Or when you’re waiting to see if a boyfriend or family member is going to provide promised support so you won’t need to place? Maybe you’re sick of being pregnant and ready to deliver, even though it means facing The Decision, just so you’ll have your body back to yourself?
Dealing with the Doldrums
Kids in the Heart Gallery photolistings, waiting for months or years for somebody to want to adopt them, surely know the agony of waiting in adoption time, as well.
Waiting can also be a drag when you’re an adoptee who longs to find his or her first family against all odds.
Whatever the reason for the wait, when adoption time seems to run unbearably long, the best thing to do is to keep busy with completely unrelated stuff. It’s hard, we know. But finding a way to focus on bettering your life in other ways is one way to “get ahead” even when adoption time seems to lag. Take care of you. Take on a new hobby. Put in extra time at work. Or spend some time with a counselor to relieve your anxiety.
(And try to remember that sometimes, waiting is meant to be part of your journey, even if the reasons seem unclear at the time.)
When Adoption Time Runs Fast
On Placement Day, it’s all too easy for birthparents and adoptive parents to misjudge how quickly adopted children will grow up. Adoption time runs faster than expected, when kids are involved. Newborns aren’t new anymore after the first few weeks. Toddlers turn into teens in the blink of an eye. Adoptive parents and birthparents become grandparents far sooner than they ever thought they would.
And “all the time” that parents thought they’d have to get comfortable with preparing to tell the adoption story ends when their three-year-old begins asking questions (which is why Abrazo requires its adopting parents to begin telling that story from Day One.) If you wait until your child remembers a time they didn’t know they were adopted, you waited too long… hard stop.
In open adoption, it’s not uncommon for folks to think they have plenty of time to catch up on their open adoption promises “over time.” If contact is lost for any reason, it’s not unusual to think there will always be another day to find each other on social media or to send an update or schedule a visit later, when schedules are less crowded with other stuff.
Birthparents and adoptees, apprehensive about the emotions of reunions, sometimes do this. And there’s nothing wrong with waiting to be ready, but remember: don’t put it off too long.
Carpe Diem… Seize the Day
We were reminded recently of how quickly the sands in the hour glass can run out, when one Abrazo birthmom passed away before she and the daughter she had placed ever got to meet again. Vee and her daughter had talked about meeting, and both had wanted to some day. Yet neither realized how fast their adoption time would run out.
So try to find a balance. Don’t wait to tell people in your adoption circle what they mean to you. Don’t put off what your heart is telling you that you need to do. For while adoption is a process, time is a gift and life is short.
So make the most of whatever adoption time you have, while you still can.